Walking through Central Park one morning, my usual, meditative state of mind—which emerges naturally when I walk through areas of trees—focused on a small act of kindness that someone had recently done for me. I touched back into the quality of friendliness the person seemed to radiate and I realized that the actual act of kindness offered was only part of what made the interaction meaningful. The other part was the quality of who this person is in the world, and that felt like the most important aspect of the experience.
It reminded me of a conversation I had with an acquaintance one afternoon in Starbuck’s, where she began to speak apologetically about how she didn’t feel like she ever did anything really important or meaningful in her life… Read More “680th Week: What We Radiate Into the World”
For those who would like to have images with your meditation, here’s our link to YouTube for an audio meditation with images…
As a child, my grandmother was my first spiritual teacher and many of the things she taught me have stayed in my awareness over all these many years. One of the things she taught me I’ve written about before—the raincloud of knowable things. What continues to touch me about this concept is how vividly it reminds me that I’m never alone, that I am always and inevitably part of something much bigger than myself. In this case, it reminds me that I’m part of a vast collective consciousness that contains the wisdom of all humans across all time and that I and everyone else contributes to and draws from this collective all the time. This is an idea that has supported my work as a trauma specialist in psychotherapy and it is an idea that has given me hope even when things may have looked profoundly bleak.
It also touches into an experience that gets stronger for me as I age—that I am in community with a reciprocal environment all the time. I saw an illustration of this the other day as I walked across Central Park. I noticed a gentleman, early in the morning, taking cans and bottles out of the trash bins scattered throughout the park. It was a Monday morning, so the bins had quite a few offerings and I began to think about how this man’s activities support recycling, and that he contributes something meaningful that I usually wouldn’t know anything about. That got me to thinking about all the activities going on in my world that I don’t see and yet add to the quality and support of my life. It reminded me of the fact that, even at subtle levels, we constantly contribute to and draw from our collective environment.Read More “769th Week: The Raincloud of Knowable Things”
Walking across the park one morning, I passed a young father and his very young son. The boy was on a scooter that had pedals and he was working hard to figure out how to get the pedals to move correctly. At one point, he succeeded in getting the pedals all the way around and, as he did, his father began to say, “You did it! You did it!” Read More “Week 629: Catching People Doing Things Right”
When I actively taught Somatic Experiencing, one of the themes that I passed along from my first SE teacher and good friend, Diane Poole Heller, was the distinction between expressions of “power over” and those of “mutual empowerment.” Diane embodies and expresses mutual empowerment in her relationships with the people around her and her influence and modeling have had a powerful impact on me. The distinction between power over (where there are only two options—you’re on the top or you’re on the bottom) and mutual empowerment (where no one has to lose power in order for things to work out) has stayed with me as an active intention to support mutual empowerment in every way I can. I have lived that not only as a teacher but also as a mentor. When people talk about the “new Earth” that needs to arise from the breakdown of the old institutions that are now being challenged around the world, what comes to mind for me is a fundamental shift from power-over styles of leadership and dominance, including our relationship with the planet and all our human and other-than-human earth-kin, to styles that embody and express mutual empowerment within every aspect of our lives.
A key thing about mutual empowerment is that it has, as its foundation, the belief and experience that your having power doesn’t automatically take away from anyone else and their having power doesn’t automatically take away from you. A stance of mutual empowerment tends to naturally engender respect, as well as wishes for others to have as much success, happiness, satisfaction—whatever—as is possible for them.
For this week’s practice, I invite you to pay attention to those times when you encounter people or situations that express “power-over” dynamics and those where you see, or experience, styles of “mutual empowerment”. Also notice these dynamics in yourself so that if you have slipped into a power-over style of interaction you’ll be able to choose whether you want to continue in that mode or if you want to experiment with shifting into a mutual-empowerment style.Read More “872nd Week: Noticing Mutual-Empowerment and Power-Over Dynamics “
The U.S. election has now come and gone, and we find ourselves either reassured by the outcome or overwhelmed with fear, anger, distress, despair, and disappointment, among other feelings. We see vividly the immense divide that exists in our country Read More “Week 651: Listening To Each Other”